Thesis Defense: Modeling Oyster Reef Resilience with Rebecca Stanley

Join us for a IRIS graduate student’s thesis defense!

Rebecca Stanley, MS candidate in Civil & Environmental Engineering with Emphasis in Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, University of Georgia will defend her thesis:

“Modeling Oyster Reef Resilience as a Form of Nature-Based Infrastructure in Response to Local Hydrodynamic Conditions”

The application of nature-based infrastructure (NBI) has become more common in coastal defense design due to its resiliency and capability to protect against waves and floods and promote biodiversity and ecological health, which is not a typical feature of conventional infrastructure design. In particular, oyster reefs act as natural breakwaters while offering additional benefits to the local community, including providing habitat and fishing grounds. The effectiveness of oyster reef application as NBI depends on its growth and survival, which is influenced by the surrounding hydrodynamic conditions that affect the food flux (growth, disease resistance) and the sedimentation rate (burial). Here, I expand a point-based oyster growth model into two dimensions by linking it to a coastal ocean model (ADCIRC). The model simulates oyster and reef growth and the degradation of shells to estimate the change in reef height (including the height of live oysters, shells, and sediment) as influenced by local hydrodynamic conditions. The model is applied to the South Atlantic Bight to examine the response of oyster reefs placed at varying depths along the coast. The simulation results indicate that the highest live oyster layer heights and total reef heights after 30 years occur at flow velocities of approximately 0.1 m/s and water depths between approximately 1 and 4 meters. Sediment deposition becomes increasingly significant after this threshold, where mortality due to sediment deposition increases with depth. The patterns linking hydrodynamic conditions and live oyster layer growth and total reef height indicate specific locations and relationships that can guide design of NBI using oyster reefs that favors longevity and resilience.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at 1:00 PM via Zoom

Major Professor: Matthew Bilskie

Co-Major Professor: C. Brock Woodson

Committee Member: Jeb Byers

Passcode: 485286